Awareness is the first defense to cancer, whether it’s for ourselves or for our dogs. Below are some important facts we have compiled to bring awareness and hopefully trigger some prevention thoughts.
- Trust your pet, not your vet! This is really key. I’m sure we all heard of horror stories about how doctors sent patients home, human or four-legged one, with only minor illness diagnosis but found out months later that it was actually the beginning of some serious cancer growth. Trust your pet, pay attention to his or her behavior, poop, posture, vocalization, movements and trust your gut. Research, research, research and go back to the vet with questions.
- What are some of the common cancer symptoms? A lump, a bump, a wound that doesn’t heal, swelling, enlarged lymph nodes, lameness of limb, abnormal bleeding and diarrhea. Sometimes there are no signs early on. So any time your pet isn’t feeling well or something is just not quite right bring it to the attention of your vet. But, remember our awareness #1 above.
- What causes cancer in dogs? Diet, injury, low immune system due to other illnesses, and genetic component as some breeds seem more prone to cancers than others.
- What kind of diet increase the risks of getting cancer? Low-grade foods that contain chemical preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, all of which contain carcinogens are the most obvious risks inducer. Grains and sugars are packed with starches and simple carbohydrates (simple sugars) all feed cancer cells. Many forms of corn and wheat break down very easily into simple sugars. One of the most important things to do is to minimize our dogs’ chances of getting cancer is to provide them with a natural, high quality diet that is high in protein, and low in carbohydrates. Foods with high antioxidant properties such as olive oil, blueberries, green tea, flaxseed and cranberries, to name a few, are very good for dogs to boost their immune system to fight off cancer as well.
- Injury can cause cancer? There are still many debates as to if a traumatic injury caused cancer cells to develop or if weakened bones or nerves caused by cancer resulted in injury. Whichever it is, if your pet had an injury and will not heal, consult your vet and even a specialist to find the root cause. Remember our awareness #1 above.
- How does low immune system lead to cancer? For cancer to develop, your immune system must either be worn out, ineffective, unable to kill cancer cells as fast as they normally develop, or exposed to a mass of cancer causing toxins or radiation that increase the rate of development of cancer cells to an abnormally high level that ones immune system cannot handle. Dogs that is getting medical treatments for other illness can have their immune system weaken. It is important to increase your dog’s immune system if he or she is sick or under prolonged medical treatment such as for organ failure or diabetes.
- What breeds are more prone to cancer? Golden retrievers have a strong incidence of cancer. So do boxers, flat-coated retrievers and Bernese Mountain dogs due to specific genetic components to some cancers which is still being researched. German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Doberman Pinchers are the other known breeds with the most cancer related claims.